The Fillmore – Charlotte, NC
29 February 2016
Words and photos by Robert Forte
There is literally no rest for the wicked as Slayer continues to scorch the earth and every venue that serves as a stop on their ongoing tour to support the band’s 12th studio release, Repentless.
Slayer, along with 80’s thrash heroes Testament and grindcore pioneers Carcass, played to a cross-generational audience at the Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina this past Monday that started lining up outside the venues hours before show time.
As I scoured the pre-show crowd prior to walking through the Fillmore’s doors myself I saw quite a few youngsters donning Slayer T-shirts. This fact alone may have been one of the biggest takeaways from the event as it will be up to this up and coming generation to usher in the new millennium of metal and perhaps become the next Slayer.
Without new blood, metal fire cannot be forged so here’s to hoping that some of the kids in attendance who may have been witnessing their first Slayer show ever went home and started writing Santa or Krampus a letter asking for a guitar, bass and or drum kit.
The show opened up with a thunderous performance by Carcass who could have easily been hard pressed to win over an audience that was ready to bleed for Testament and their metal gods Slayer. Carcass proved to be more than up for the task as they blistered through an eight song set list that the Fillmore crowd ate up.
Jeff Walker (bass/vocals) in particular was at his evil best as throughout the band’s performance he proved to be both menacing and engaging while belting out Carcass classics as “Corporal Jigsore Quandary,” “Incarnated Solvent Abuse,” and set closer “Heartwork.”
Testament, like Anthrax, have not been shy about carrying the torch of metal for going on over four decades now. Chuck Billy (vocals), like Scott Ian from Anthrax, has always had this innate ability to bond with a crowd the second he hits the stage, and Testament’s performance on the evening proved that this trait is still embedded within the lead singer’s DNA after all these years.
The band including long time members Billy, Alex Skolnik (guitars) and Eric Peterson (guitars) along with 90’s era additions Gene Hoglan (drums) and Steve DiGiogrio (bass) played with the same of kind of enthusiasm and sheer force you’d expect them to if they were on stage at Wacken Open Air.
This passion carried into into the Fillmore Crowd as the band blasted through an eight song set list which included the three songs almost every Testament fans yearns to hear in concert “The New Order,” “Practice What You Preach,” and “Into the Pit.”
For a set closer the band chose to roll out “The Formation of Damnation” off of the record of the same name and which curiously is the only studio release from the band that former Testament and now Slayer drummer Paul Bostaph played on.
Recently, Slayer guitarist Kerry King called out some other top-of-the-food-chain metal acts, including Metallica and Iron Maiden, for what he referred to as living on their past and not attempting to produce any legitimately great new music.
I’m sure this point could be debated, however, one thing thing that is not up for contention is the fact there are hardly any metal bands playing today that continue to raise the bar from a performance standpoint each and every time they hit the stage the way Slayer does.
The band has seen some turmoil and strife in recent years with original guitarist Jeff Hanneman’s death and what appears to be the final exit from the band of original drummer Dave Lombardo.
Let me be clear on something, Lombardo is a once in a lifetime drumming talent and the writing and playing style of Hanneman and how he connected with King and vice versa can never be replicated. Hanneman and Lombardo are as much a part of what made Slayer the legends they are today as Tom Araya (vocals/bass) and King himself.
Despite these losses, Slayer continues to fire on all cylinders both in the recording studio and on stage as Exodus guitar legend Gary Holt, and on again off again drummer Paul Bostaph have proved to be more than capable of holding their own on and finding their own niches within the band.
Slayer always does a superlative job of presenting a set list any fan of the band could enjoy and Monday night’s show at the Fillmore proved much of the same.
The band mixed in some old school classics such as “Postmortem,” “Born of Fire,” “Mandatory Suicide,” “War Ensemble,” and “Chemical Warfare,” while also playing to the new generation of fans with more recent cuts that included a few off Repentless such as the title track itself, “You Against You,” “Pride in Prejudice,” and “When the Stillness Comes.”
King has me convinced that God Hates Us All is his favorite Slayer record as it seems to be always well represented at most Slayer shows these days. The band would end up playing “Disciple,” “God Send Death,” and “Payback,” all from their ninth studio album which has the unfortunate distinction of being released on September 11, 2001.
On the evening King showed no signs of decline as he masterfully blistered through his many trademark solos while also generating a Tasmanian Devil like whirlwind of thrashing throughout that left me exhausted just barring witness to it.
Per usual, Araya’s interaction with the audience was limited but his playing as well as his attitude spoke for themselves. Araya was fierce from the first chords of the opening song to the four headed closing monster of “South of Heaven,” “Raining Blood,” “Black Magic,” and “Angel of Death.”
Just because the ingredients have changed a bit doesn’t mean that Slayer still isn’t delivering a recipe of metal bombast and thrash destruction that very few bands can even hope to replicate.
Should their performance at the Fillmore in Charlotte this past Monday be harbinger of things to come, I’d have to surmise that fans of Slayer can look forward to thrashing, crashing and banging into each other in the mosh pit for years to come. [blog type=”alt” heading=”Slayer | Testament | Carcass – Fillmore Charlotte – Charlotte, NC – 29 February 2016″ heading_type=”block” tags=”slayer-charlotte-022916″ /]